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In the last six months, reality star and bestselling cookbook author Kristin Cavallari has moved into a new home with three kids during a pandemic and endured a painful and public divorce, strains of which could be seen on her Very Cavallari reality series. This week, she released her newest book, True Comfort: More Than 100 Cozy Recipes Free of Gluten and Refined Sugar, and it couldn’t have hit the shelves at a better time.

“My kids and the cook book have been a big source of comfort during the last seven months and my saving grace,” the former Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County star tells L.A. Weekly over the phone from  Nashville. “Moving into my own house and creating a Zen space has been nice. I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I’m feeling free, excited and hopeful. It’s not to say that I don’t have sad days. In a sense, it’s been a blessing that this went down during the pandemic because it forced me into being a hermit and staying at home instead of going out, putting on a happy face when everybody knows my business. I’m just trying to focus on the positive. I’ve had quite a few months to let it breath and that’s been nice.”

The book is meant to bust the myth that comfort food has to be unhealthy.  She says that with a few ingredient swaps, you don’t have to beat yourself up and spend extra hours working out the next day, eating nothing but salads.

“I want to give my body the most nutrient dense diet that I can so it has vitamins and minerals to keep the immune system as healthy as it can be,” says the mother of three non-picky eaters. “You won’t find anything white in this cook book – no white sugar, salt or flour. They’ve been stripped of all nutrients. I use pink Himalayan salt that is packed with minerals. I cook gluten free because it makes me, and my kids, feel better. I don’t do cow’s milk because I don’t have a tolerance for it, so we use goat and sheep’s milk cheeses and yogurt. In addition to my intolerance, they are just easier on the digestive system. It works for me and my family.”

Cavallari, who also has her own Uncommon James fine jewelry line, shared her recipe for shakshuka out of the new book with L.A. Weekly. The dish of eggs poached in a savory sauce of tomatoes has been a Mediterranean mainstay for centuries.

Shakshuka from True Comfort (Aubrie Pick)

“I love bowls, breakfast, brunch and it checks all of the boxes,” she says. “You can eat it with tortillas if you want or with a spoon if you’re avoiding carbs. It’s one of those really fun and warm breakfast meals that I like to make on the weekends and my kids like it as well. It makes an impression when you bring it to the table for guests and is not hard to make at all. It’s a great one for entertaining.”

Shakshuka

Serves 6

Recipe courtesy of TRUE COMFORT: More Than 100 Cozy Recipes Free of Gluten and Refined Sugar

Copyright © 2020 by Kristin Cavallari. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 cups coarsely chopped kale (stems removed before chopping)

1 green bell pepper, diced

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pink Himalayan salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (28-ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes, with their juice

¼ cup coconut cream

½ cup canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

6 eggs

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

6 tortillas of choice (we like the Siete brand almond flour or cassava/chia flour), warmed

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, kale, and bell pepper and sauté, stirring continuously, until the garlic is fragrant and slightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and the tomatoes with their juice. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the coconut cream and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the garbanzo beans. Let all the ingredients continue to cook together for 5 minutes.
  3. While everything is cooking, preheat your broiler to medium-high.
  4. Make 6 small wells in the cooked mixture in the skillet. Crack an egg into each well. Season each egg with salt and pepper, and place the skillet under the broiler. Let broil until the whites of eggs are firm but the yolks are still runny, 6 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the broiler. Garnish the shakshuka with the chopped parsley or cilantro and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top. Serve it hot, in the skillet, with the warm tortillas alongside. Let each person spoon the mixture onto a tortilla, or serve already spooned onto tortillas for each person to enjoy.